Skip to comments.The dirty little secret about Google Android
Posted on 08/23/2010 4:53:52 PM PDT by Swordmaker
Google Android began with the greatest of intentions freedom, openness, and quality software for all. However, freedom always comes with price, and often results in unintended consequences. With Android, one of the most important of those unintended consequences is now becoming clear as Google gets increasingly pragmatic about the smartphone market and less and less tied to its original ideals.
Heres the dirty little secret about Android: After all the work Apple did to get AT&T to relinquish device control for the iPhone and all the great efforts Google made to get the FCC and the U.S. telecoms to agree to open access rules as part of the 700 MHz auction, Android is taking all of those gains and handing the power back to the telecoms.
That is likely to be the most important and far-reaching development in the U.S. mobile market in 2010. In light of the high ideals that the Android OS was founded upon and the positive movement toward openness that was happening back in 2007-2008, it is an extremely disappointing turn of events.
When Apple convinced AT&T not to plaster its logo on the iPhone or preload it with a bunch of AT&T bloatware, it was an important first step for smartphones to emerge as independent computers that were no longer crippled by the limitations put on them by the selfish interests of the telecom carriers, who typically wanted to upsell and nickle-dime customers for every extra app and feature on the phone.
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said, iPhone is the first phone where we separated the carrier from the hardware. They worry about the network, while we worry about the phone.
Almost for that reason alone, the iPhone was an immediate hit with customers, despite the many limitations of the first generation iPhone when it was released in June 2007.
Later that year, Google announced the Android mobile operating system and the Open Handset Alliance. Here was Googles statement made at the time:
This alliance shares a common goal of fostering innovation on mobile devices and giving consumers a far better user experience than much of what is available on todays mobile platforms. By providing developers a new level of openness that enables them to work more collaboratively, Android will accelerate the pace at which new and compelling mobile services are made available to consumers.
Then in the spring of 2008, Google pulled off a brilliant coup in the U.S. governments 700 MHz auction when it bid enough to drive up the price for Verizon and AT&T to lock them into the FCCs open access guidelines (which Google helped form). Verizon had initially fought the open access concept with legal action, but eventually made a 180-degree turnaround and trumpeted its own plans to become an open network.
However, Verizons open network plans have never really materialized. To say the company is dragging its feet would be a massive understatement. The best hope for a popular, unlocked handset on Verizon was Googles own Nexus One.
After launching in January 2010, first with access to the T-Mobile network, the Nexus One was planned to arrive on all four of the big U.S. wireless carriers by spring. The phone was sold by Google, unlocked, for roughly $500. Then users could simply buy service (without a contract) from a wireless carrier. Thats the model that has worked so well for consumers in Europe and the Nexus One was supposed to be Googles major initiative to start moving the U.S. in the same direction.
Unfortunately, sales of the Nexus One were tepid and customers were frustrated by Googles poor customer support. By the time spring rolled around, Verizon was still dragging its feet and eventually the Nexus One on Verizon was canceled and replaced with the HTC Incredible, a nice device that nonetheless completely followed the old carrier model.
By some reports, the Open Handset Alliance is in now shambles. Members such as HTC have gone off and added lots of their own software and customizations to their Android devices without contributing any code back to the Alliance. Motorola and Samsung have begun taking the same approach. The collaborative spirit is gone if it ever existed at all. And, Google is proving to be a poor shepherd for the wolves-in-sheeps-clothing that make up the telecoms and the handset makers in the Alliance.
As a result, we now have a situation where the U.S. telecoms are reconsolidating their power and putting customers at a disadvantage. And, their empowering factor is Android. The carriers and handset makers can do anything they want with it. Unfortunately, that now includes loading lots of their own crapware onto these Android devices, using marketing schemes that confuse buyers (see the Samsung Galaxy S), and nickle-and-diming customers with added fees to run certain apps such as tethering, GPS navigation, and mobile video.
Just as Google is overwhelming the iPhone with over 20 Android handsets to Apples one device, so the army of Android phones that can be carrier-modified is overwhelming the one Apple phone on a single carrier that allows it to stand apart and not play the old carrier-dominated game that resulted in strong handsets weakened by the design, software, and pricing ploys of the telecoms.
Despite the ugly truth that Android is enabling the U.S. wireless carriers to exert too much control over the devices and keep the U.S. mobile market in a balkanized state of affairs, Android remains the antithesis of the closed Apple ecosystem that drives the iPhone and so its still very attractive to a lot of technologists and business professionals.
But, the consequence of not putting any walls around your product is that both the good guys and the bad guys can do anything they want with it. And for Android, that means that its being manipulated, modified, and maimed by companies that care more about preserving their old business models than empowering people with the next great wave of computing devices.
Welcome to T-Mobile...;)
At least you can root your phone, get a custom ROM and go forward as you want. That’s quite a bit different than what you can do with other phones, and what the article was trying to infer.
Unfortuately for ol’ Larry, Google uses Java SE (which was released to the public domain, nothing Oracle can do about it) and they rolled their own VM. Other than sharing the name “Java”, there is no crossover between Google’s implementation and the proprietary ME engine that Oracle bought when they bought Sun.
Larry needs a new yacht, I guess, and is hoping for some sort of payoff!
Not without voiding my warranty which is quite similar to other phones. There are definite advantages to android, but it isn’t in any way far and away better than the iPhone.
One nice thing about a Mac is that when you buy one there is no bloatware (full disclosure there might not be on 2K PCs but I’ve never owned one) this is turning into one of the advantages of the iPhone over android. Another 100 would have been acceptable to pay to not have any unwanted apps.
Big problem is the 3G pipe can only carry only so much data.
Witness the advent of iPad 3G: the highly touted unlimited data plan stopped real quick when they realized how much data users would move.
Speaking of Orwellian, they even photograph and log photos, IPS, surfing history of our homes and businesses.
That's the problem. Apple controls iOS completely, and the iPhone hardware. There is a clear line there between Apple and the carrier. Things must be negotiated between the two. This is the new model that Apple created, breaking the carrier stranglehold, and the Android promised to follow.
But Android's openness turns out to be its Achilles heel. It gave complete control of the software back to the carriers, who are up to their old tricks again. For example, Verizon pushes the Amazon MP3 store, I can't delete that app from my Android phone if I want to stay stock and supported. Verizon gets a special section on the Market for me, and read all app descriptions carefully, because downloading and using many of them will automatically add $$$ to your bill. They're not back to the old ways yet, but they're heading in that direction, enabled by Android.
Modern Android phones are coming out locked just like the iPhone is. Remember, Google has shown it can and will revoke apps from your phone. So far it has done that only for fraudulent apps. So far.
No need to worry about having your warranty revoked because you want to open your phone's OS so you can use it.
See above about locked phones. If you change your phone to an unsupported configuration, you don't deserve warranty support. Producers carefully calculate warranties according to a specified set of operating criteria, and to ask them to support other criteria is unfair. I wouldn't expect Ford to honor the warranty on a custom stroked, bored and blown Mustang engine either.
No threat (since removed) of being sued because you dared unlock your phone so you could DO what YOU wanted to do.
No, they just threaten to sue all the sources of the complete Android OS that you can download from. Instead, you can legally get a substandard Android, stripped of most of the standard apps that it's known for. Oh yes, not all of Android is free, just the basic core system. All those cool apps that come with it are Google proprietary, the custom carrier user interfaces are carrier proprietary.
In fact, you have the source code to the OS - you can change the kernel, write and distribute applications and extensions as you desire.
Quite true, but that's a geek thing. It doesn't apply to the vast majority of buyers.
And you don't think Apple or AT&T don't do that as well?
Likewise Apple. However, Google only does that for apps in the Android Market; the other marketplaces, Google cannot touch.
Given that Android shipments are outstripping the iPhone, I think the majority of buyers are fine with Android. It's taking over the market, already having a larger marketshare than iOS, and extending that lead.
Wow! I guess people love ads, bloatware. Some people around here sure do ...
Jobs attempted to wow potential iAdvertisers with the claim that the platform could offer as many as a billion ad impressions per day. How does he arrive at that figure? Its one ad delivered every three minutes across the average app usage time of 30 minutes per day, and then multiplied by 100 million devices...
An ad every 3 minutes. A 1 billion ads a day (10+ ads per day per phone). Yeah, some people really love ads!
How about bloatware?
Seriously, though, you have the actual SOURCE to the OS; you can remove and reload what you want. And one man's bloatware is another man's must-have application. How do you get rid of unwanted default apps on the iPhone? CAN you get rid of unwanted default apps on the iPhone?
And it still doesn't change the fact that the original article was pure, unadulterated FUD.
And you don’t think Apple or AT&T don’t do that as well?
Your argument is now that two wrongs negate the fabulous Orwell diatribe.
On the contrary, with an open system I can block reporting, I can change things up, I can use different browsers. On a closed system, I can’t.
Both want to collect information on you; only one gives you the freedom to avoid that collection.
Let's look at the easily discovered facts, instead of your erroneous claims.
On the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, the iOS4 "closed system" that you imply does not allow a user to "change things up" and use a different browser, how come there are 30 browser apps from third parties available in the app store either for free or for a nominal cost including Opera, Mercury browser, Atomic Browser, several "privacy" browsers promising anonymity, a double page browser, a browser that shares a page with a notepad, Quick browser, and Anonymous Browser? Apparently you CAN "change things up" and run other browsers than Apple's default Safari on the iPhones and it's kin.
Erroneous, indeed? How many of those 'alternate' browsers are nothing more than reskins or extended versions of Safari? Because it seems that Apple doesn't really let you use something other than their browser engine. Hmmm... You can extend and skin their browser, but actually replace it? Seems that's not an option.
Oh, and can I take a look at the TCP stack, make sure stuff's not being sent back to Apple HQ? Can I run a block on all outbound traffic that's not on an approved port, and ensure that the block is functioning?
Seems you're the one being a bit erroneous, and loose with the facts...
Yes, erroneous. You are wrong. From your own year-and-a-half old, out-dated link:
I suspect that itll be a long time until Apple allows Firefox or Opera or any other true Safari rival onto the iPhone; Id love to be proven wrong, though
What was the very first browser I list in the alternative browsers available through the Apple app store? OPERA!
Again, as many times before, your own links prove you wrong! Why not READ your so called evidence before making your claims that I don't know what I'm talking about. I OWN THE PRODUCTS. YOU DON'T.
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